After a Long Winter

Friday, April 18, 2014

The summer before my dad was diagnosed with cancer, he taught me how to wield a chainsaw. Together we cut up a tangle of big, old trees resting in a ravine. During a break he said, count the rings. I counted 120 and together we found the drought of the 1920s, marked in tightly spaced rings close to the center. The following years must have been lush, full years because the rings turned fat and wide. It is sometimes that way, in weather, in life. The depression before joy, the transition before birth, the lean before the fat.

I was with my dad when the doctor first said that word, cancer. It was far less climactic than I expected the speaking of that word would be. It was a base camp, the entry point. It took us to the starting line where the black and white checkered flag waved us Go. That night two of my younger brothers and I took a recently totaled truck out back, trying our best to get it stuck, and then trying our best to get it unstuck. We made a makeshift course that took us down through trees, around a sharp corner, across a small ravine, and up the back of a steep pond dam. I drove this course in less than thirty seconds, slamming through the trees, skidding around the corner, roaring up the dam. It gave me something to do.

We're cutting up another tree, my dad and I. It's in the path of that old racetrack, where trees have grown too mature to batter with a beat up truck. I cut rounds and he splits. Yesterday I hauled up the first load and set the first stack in refilling the woodshed. My dad's last scheduled chemo treatment was last month. It's spring. Lambs fill our pastures. Birds are building nests in the barn and a pair of Canadian geese are building theirs near our pond. Today I lifted up a pile of straw and ten small bunnies bolted out from underneath. We're stretching our chilled limbs and breathing fresh air, waking up from the darkness of winter. Life moves on, somehow, and there is much work to be done.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful analogy. May your fathers next rings grow thick and fat.


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